I’m Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars

Intersectionality is Stalinist Bupkis.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/im-glad-the-dyke-march-banned-jewish-stars.html?_r=0

Bari Weiss
June 27, 2017

This weekend, at a lesbian march in Chicago, three women carrying Jewish pride flags — rainbow flags embossed with a Star of David — were kicked out of the celebration on the grounds that their flags were a “trigger.” An organizer of the Dyke March told the Windy City Times that the fabric “made people feel unsafe” and that she and the other members of the Dyke March collective didn’t want anything “that can inadvertently or advertently express Zionism” at the event.

Laurel Grauer, one of the women who was ejected, said she’d been carrying that Jewish pride flag in the march, held on the Saturday before the city’s official Pride Parade, for more than a decade. It “celebrates my queer, Jewish identity,” she explained. This year, however, she lost track of the number of people who harassed her for carrying it.

I’m sorry for the women, like Ms. Grauer, who found themselves under genuine threat for carrying a colorful cloth falsely accused of being pernicious.

But I am also grateful.

Has there ever been a crisper expression of the consequences of “intersectionality” than a ban on Jewish lesbians from a Dyke March?

Intersectionality is the big idea of today’s progressive left. In theory, it’s the benign notion that every form of social oppression is linked to every other social oppression. This observation — coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw — sounds like just another way of rephrasing a slogan from a poster I had in college: My liberation is bound up with yours. That is, the fight for women’s rights is tied up with the fight for gay rights and civil rights and so forth. Who would dissent from the seductive notion of a global sisterhood?

Well, in practice, intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.

By that hierarchy, you might imagine that the Jewish people — enduring yet another wave of anti-Semitism here and abroad — should be registered as victims. Not quite.

Why? Largely because of Israel, the Jewish state, which today’s progressives see only as a vehicle for oppression of the Palestinians — no matter that Israel has repeatedly sought to meet Palestinian claims with peaceful compromise, and no matter that progressives hold no other country to the same standard. China may brutalize Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang, while denying basic rights to the rest of its 1.3 billion citizens, but “woke” activists pushing intersectionality keep mum on all that.

One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/im-glad-the-dyke-march-banned-jewish-stars.html?_r=0

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PRESS RELEASE: LGBTQ Jews Dismissed from Chicago Dyke March

From A Wider Bridge:  http://awiderbridge.org/press-release-lgbtq-jews-dismissed-from-chicago-dyke-march/

A WIDER BRIDGE CONDEMNS THE EXCLUSION OF LGBTQ JEWS AND ALLIES FROM THE CHICAGO DYKE MARCH

We are deeply disturbed by the exclusion of A Wider Bridge Midwest Manager Laurie Grauer and her friends from the Chicago Dyke March, an annual event attended by 1,500 queer women and allies in Chicago. Laurie was proud to carry a rainbow Jewish flag in the march, as has been tradition for her and her friends for a decade.

Organizers of the march identified the flag, confronted Laurie and her friends, and informed them the flag was “triggering marchers,” and demanded they fold up the flag and promptly leave the March, as the event was an “anti-Zionist, pro-Palestine event.”

The Chicago Dyke March’s Mission statement includes the following:

“[The Dyke March] is an anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots effort with a goal to bridge together communities across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, size, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, culture, immigrant status, spirituality, and ability.”

The Dyke March has failed to live up to their goal of “bridging together communities.” That the organizers would choose to dismiss long-time community members for choosing to express their Jewish identity or spirituality runs counter to the very values the Dyke March claims to uphold, and veers down a dangerous path toward anti-semitism.

At A Wider Bridge, we believe in the intrinsic value of being in conversation, even in cases of disagreement; of sharing, empathy, building relationships, and finding common ground. Automatically dismissing Jews and any LGBTQ person or ally who cares about Israel out of hand only builds walls between members of our diverse community.

We call on the Dyke March to issue a full public apology for dismissing LGBTQ Jews from the March, and affirm the Dyke March hold to their own values as a safe place for all LGBTQ people, including the Jewish Community.

We also invite the leadership of the Dyke March to meet with A Wider Bridge to discuss the events that took place yesterday, and to have a constructive dialogue about how anti-Semitism and calls for the disappearance of the Jewish State are creating an unsafe environment for LGBTQ Jews and allies.

Finally, we call on all of our community partners and allies in the Jewish community and the LGBTQ community who care about the advancement human rights and inclusion to join us in condemning this act of hate.

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Tossing Jewish Women Out of Dyke March Was an Intersectional Fail

From The Advocate:  https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/6/28/tossing-jewish-women-out-dyke-march-was-intersectional-fail

What happened in Chicago this weekend was a community low point.

By Amanda Kerri
June 28 2017

This past Sunday afternoon, as our local Pride parade streamed by, signifying the semi-official end of our Pride weekend, I sat down to have a much-deserved drink and smoke, and casually checked my phone. There was an email from my editor at The Advocate letting me know about the Dyke March in Chicago, where a group of Jewish attendees were thrown out because they were carrying a Pride flag with a Star of David on it, which made attendees uncomfortable.

I simply rolled my eyes, shook my head, and muttered a well-earned “Goddamn it, people.” The organizers made sure to defend themselves with a statement that said they were certainly not anti-Semitic but were anti-Zionist and supported a free Palestine. They also made sure to let people know that they were welcoming of all, embraced diversity, and were not bad people. Well, of course they aren’t. They’re not bad people, just political partisans who are using LGBT issues to push their ideological agenda, which ironically is what they were accusing these individuals of doing, though only after apparently interrogating them.

What’s interesting is that according to everything I’ve read, these individuals weren’t carrying Israeli flags, just Pride flags with a Star of David on them. Now, yes, the Israeli flag does have a Star of David on it, but the Star of David is not the Israeli flag. Crazy concept, I know, but follow me on this one. The Star of David is an emblem of the Jewish faith that goes back over a thousand years, much like the crescent for Islam or the cross for Christianity. In fact, the image of the Star of David is called the Seal of Solomon in Islamic mysticism, it’s a symbol that predates the nation of Israel by centuries. So what appears to have happened is that a few people saw a hexagram and immediately concluded, “Star of David=Israel=Zionism=Evil.”

This is simple thinking for simple people who want a simple ideology that makes them feel righteous. That’s the problem, though; when you feel righteous in a belief that reduces the overwhelming complexity of humanity and the world to symbols, stereotypes, and a basic good versus evil dynamic, you usually end up being a bigoted zealot. This time around, these bigoted zealots have wrapped themselves in a rainbow shroud to defend their beliefs.

All of this stems from something a part of the left calls “pinkwashing,” which has come to describe the way Israel promotes its LGBT acceptance to allegedly cover up its mistreatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Let me go ahead and say this right now and get this out of the way: If you think you can reduce the cosmic nightmare that is the Israel-Palestine conflict to fancy buzzwords, either/or equations, and a black-and-white morality, you are a moron.

The Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict is easily the most morally, legally, and geopolitically complex issue of modern history, with its roots going back hundreds of years, and is almost baked into the two sides’ identities. Oh, yes, I said the two sides because there is no “good guy” in this. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have committed atrocities, violated human rights, broken treaties, and used religion and propaganda as weapons. I don’t pretend to think I have a simple solution or a hashtag-worthy buzzword to frame an issue this complex.

Additionally, and this is very important to understand, to use LGBT+ issues as a shield for your pro-Palestinian stance on the conflict is fundamentally morally abhorrent and hypocritical. For 10 years one of the participants in the Dyke March has carried her Jewish Pride flag with no incident till now. According to her, only anti-LGBT protesters harassed her previously, and they were asked to leave.

Continue reading at:  https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/6/28/tossing-jewish-women-out-dyke-march-was-intersectional-fail

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Chicago Dyke March faces controversy as it bans Jewish flags

From Pink News:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/06/25/chicago-pride-faces-controversy-as-it-bans-jewish-flags/

Chicago Pride has faced controversy after it banned people from carrying Jewish Star of David flags at the event.


25th June 2017

LGBT newspaper Windy City Times reported that three people carrying Jewish Pride flags were asked to leave because they were making “people feel unsafe”.

It’s believed that a Dyke March member told the people the flags were banned because the march was “anti-Zionist” and “pro-Palestinian”.

Laurel Grauer was one of the people told that she could not carry the LGBT-themed Jewish flag.

She said that she was told the flag was an offensive trigger to some people.

She said: “It was a flag from my congregation which celebrates my queer, Jewish identity which I have done for over a decade marching in the Dyke March with the same flag.”

“They were telling me to leave because my flag was a trigger to people that they found offensive.”

Organisers for the sect have been accused of anti-Semitism and failing to promote inclusivity by creating the ban.

The Dyke March prides itself for being a “more inclusive” alternative to the main Pride event.

Complete article at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/06/25/chicago-pride-faces-controversy-as-it-bans-jewish-flags/

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The great American fallout: how small towns came to resent cities

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/19/americas-great-fallout-rural-areas-resent-cities-republican-democrat

It’s no secret Donald Trump benefited from rural voters. But Democrat or Republican, they usually tell Katherine Cramer – who has spent a decade visiting residents of small-town Wisconsin – the same thing: it’s the cities that get all the breaks, and then have the gall to look down on them, too

Katherine J Cramer
Monday 19 June 2017

Joe’s voice takes on a mocking tone.

“You gotta quit driving!” he says. “Don’t drive as much.” He rolls his eyes and looks around at his pals, a handful of them perched on moulded plastic lawn chairs in a tiny town in central Wisconsin. He’s talking about the way city people look down on rural folks like himself. In his normal voice he adds: “You gotta drive 20 miles to work? You can’t cut that in half.”

Joe gathers with his friends every morning over coffee to solve the problems of the world. With a wink, they call themselves the Downtown Athletic Club (the closest downtown is 30 miles away) and are a mix of independent contractors in construction trades, an independently employed auto mechanic, and several retired public school teachers. They have a mix of political leanings among them, but most of them openly support Donald Trump.

You might not always guess it. After the cost of healthcare and gas, the most frequent topic of conversation is economic inequality – which many of the group blame on corporate CEOs. “The other big issue I think for our whole nation is the discrepancy [between workers and bosses],” says one of the retired teachers, Gary. “The top of the corporations are taking off profits greater than ever before in history. And that’s really driving a bigger separation between the richest in America, and the common belief is that we’re losing the middle class.”

Does he share this belief? “Well the business element is: the town is dying,” he says, as if it were both so obvious and so familiar to him that it was barely worth comment. “All the small towns in the area are having a hard time keeping grocery stores, and gas stations, and everything.”

Look at the old service station here, with its pumps no longer in operation because they no longer made money, and you can see what he means. The boarded-up buildings along the street say the same thing. So too do the worries in the group about the local schools disappearing through school consolidation.

I have been visiting coffee klatches and residents’ groups throughout the state of Wisconsin since 2007. I seek them out, in various types of places, to understand how they are making sense of politics. From the very beginning, the conversations in small communities like this one surprised me. I have heard time and time again about the struggle to make ends meet, and the lack of response from anyone with the power to make life better. I have heard men like Joe say those idiots who tell us to drive less have no clue what our lives are like.

These groups have a class analysis of what is going on in their country; and what’s going on is essentially about where things are going: to the cities.

The members of the Downtown Athletic Club don’t want to live in a downtown, but they do know that society as a whole confers respect to such places. There is a sense in conversations that people in rural America are not getting their fair share of attention, resources, and respect. They think they deserve more, and that cities and the people within them are getting more than they deserve. They mainly blame racial and ethnic minorities, but also white urban elites.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/19/americas-great-fallout-rural-areas-resent-cities-republican-democrat

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Is Trans Over?

Sex and gender are two different things.  Gender is about social roles, the indoctrination Simone de Beauvoir wrote about in “The Second Sex.”  Sex is about what’s between the legs or an activity cheerfully performed that enjoys wide popularity.

For what it is worth there has never been a gender binary as masculinity and femininity have always been shades of gray and not black or white.

From The Advocate:  https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/6/13/trans-over

The beginning of the end of the gender binary may have arrived.

By Riki Wilchins
June 13 2017

I was talking last year with a woman who ran a large public company, and she was discussing her son, who she explained was nonbinary and used them/they as pronouns. I asked how long they had been transgender, and she replied, “Oh, they’s totally straight and male with a girlfriend — they just hates male/female categories and says that gender binaries are so over.”

My first response was, “Oh, my God — we’ve gone too far!” But upon reflection, I realized a profound shift was taking place, and a fundamental question was being posed.

As writer-activist Dana Beyer points out, “the ‘trans’ in transsexual was about moving from one thing to another.” One was going from male to female, or vice versa.

This concept was more or less unconsciously grafted onto transgender. It’s an overused description that “transgender” is a broad “umbrella” term for all those people who are gender-nonconforming — transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag people, stone butches, etc. And a political movement grew up to represent these people and their political interests.

Alas, this is not and never was true.

While we’re no longer supposed to use the term “transsexual,” what we have and have always had is a transsexual movement, about one’s right to change sexes.

On one hand, think of most of the main issues that animate this movement: the right to use the correct bathroom, to serve openly in the military, to get name-change corrections, to not lose one’s job when transitioning (or when outed!).

These are all important and necessary things, but what they have in common is that they are all related to changing from one sex to another (or, if you prefer, to having one’s correct gender recognized).

On the other hand, you cannot find any transgender or LGBT organization of any size that ever mentions stone butches, drag people, or cross-dressers. For political purposes, they don’t exist. So, not much room under that umbrella.

This is particularly unfortunate for cross-dressers, who pretty much founded what grew into the modern transgender movement and created many of its earliest institutions, and then had to stand by and see themselves left behind by it.

Now the transgender movement is being challenged by those who identify as nonbinary and genderqueer. But are these people transgender?

Transgender has also been about some sort of biological anchor, a difference between one’s perceived or presented gender expression and one’s inner gender identity, a dissonance or, to use the old psychiatric term,  “dysphoria.”

But with genderqueer and nonbinary people, it is the identifying act of saying one is nonbinary or gender-nonconforming which is central to identity. Can one be transgender if one is not “really” transgender? Is the simple act of identification enough?

And even if we do include such people within the transgender movement, as Beyer has asked, how would you operationalize that politically? What bathrooms do nonbinary people want the right to use? How do they want to be integrated into the military? What category (or categories) do they seek to have government-issued ID?

Continue reading at:  https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/6/13/trans-over

Naomi Klein Is Sick of Benevolent Billionaires

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/magazine/naomi-klein-is-sick-of-benevolent-billionaires.html?_r=1

By Ana Marie Cox
June 14, 2017

Your book “No Is Not Enough” frames Donald Trump’s impunity as a type of branding. How does that help explain him? He’s a culmination of many dangerous trends in the culture, especially the triumph of the idea that a successful corporation is first and foremost selling an idea of itself and a sense of belonging and identity to its customers. In the late ’80s, you saw brands start to sell the idea, the sense of belonging, first. That primacy of the brand does a lot to explain Trump, and how he has developed this intimate relationship with his base, why they expect so little of him and why he gets away with what he gets away with, because the rules of branding are really simple: Be true to your brand. The problem with Donald Trump is that he went and designed a brand that is entirely amoral.

Is he actually true to his brand? His brand is wealth and power, which is why he’s driven so mad by things like “President Bannon” and people disputing his wealth. Because if that’s the case — if he’s not as rich and powerful as he claims he is — that really does damage his brand. It is a tremendous weakness of Trump’s that he believes his own P.R. And it’s a central part of his brand that he is the guy who gets the deal, and it has been ever since his real first brand extension, “The Art of the Deal” — a book not written by him.

One criticism I had of your dissection of his brand was that you talk about him as if he’s a triumph of capitalism, even though he’s not — he inherited his wealth. I would argue that that’s the kind of capitalism we have now. I think there has always been a huge gap between what theories of capitalism say it is and how capitalism operates out in the world.

You argue that Democrats have to share the blame for Trump’s rise, partially in promoting the idea that the solution to vast inequality is to have nicer rich people, or philanthro-capitalism. Well, Trump’s pitch to voters was: “I’m rich. Sure, I have absolutely no experience in government, but the fact of my wealth is all the evidence you need that you can trust me to fix everything.” It’s an absurd pitch, but I don’t know how far away it is from why Americans have trusted Bill Gates to remake the American school system or Africa’s agriculture system. I don’t think there could’ve been a pitch as crass as Trump’s “I can fix America because I’m rich” without that groundwork laid by Davos and the Clinton Global Initiative.

There’s a quote in your book that the Trump phenomenon is an uncouth, vulgar echo of the dangerous idea that billionaires can solve our problems. I wonder if, also in Trump, we see a more uncouth and vulgar echo of another idea that the Democrats brought us: benevolent nepotism. Look at the structure of the Gates Foundation and this idea that, rather than trying to solve these huge global problems through institutions with some kind of democracy and transparency baked into them, we’re just going to outsource it to benevolent billionaires. Look at how the Gates Foundation allocates its money, and how it’s structured: it’s Bill Gates, his father and his wife and Warren Buffett — that has been interrogated a whole lot less than this current outsourcing of the world to Jared and Ivanka.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/magazine/naomi-klein-is-sick-of-benevolent-billionaires.html?_r=1

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I’m 45 Years Post-op Today

I originally posted the piece below on June 22, 2012.  Leslie St Clair who is beside me in the photo passed away July 5, 2010.

I will be 70 in a few days, fifty years ago I was in the process of leaving home.  The Summer of Love was calling and I needed to fly, to see America, to do what I had to do.

Now I am one of the really old timers, one of the last of an era.

An old hippie dyke who dealt with being born transsexual so many years ago.

The version of Sex Reassignment Surgery they performed in 1972 was pretty primitive by today’s standards.

I was one of the people they perfected their techniques on.  All of us who were among the first to get our surgery from one of the University Hospitals were the bodies they learned on and sort of experimented on.

I remember going into the OR and then waking up in pain.

That tiny basement room, hidden away from the rest of the hospital was hot and miserable.

I was stuck on my back with my legs tied together.  They had sewn a large stent into my vagina. I was catheterized.

I had tubes in both arms and I remember a lot of pain.

Chope was sort of hard to get to and I didn’t have a lot of visitors.

There was a male respiratory therapist who grew up in Middlebury, Vermont just across Lake Champlain  from where I grew up.  We talked about growing up in the north country and skiing.

There was a nurse who was convinced that transsexuals were bizarre perverts and that I was trying to seduce him.  Even though I was in pain with tubes going into me and coming out of me.  My hair was filthy and felt physically filthy with sweat.

After a week they put me back under to change the dressings and pull the original stent.  I made the mistake of having implants done at the same time.

I was still in incredible pain as I was developing a vaginal-urethral fistula.

They were limiting my pain killers and telling me that the pain was psychosomatic.

I developed bed sores from where my legs had been tied together.

When they discharged me from the hospital, ten days after SRS, I was still in a great deal of pain.

Several days later my friend Kim, drove me down to Chope for a check up where the doctors discovered I had a fistula and was peeing through my vagina.

They shoved a large needle in to my bladder above my pelvic bones, and inserted a suprapubic catheter.  They gave me a large supply of pain killers at this point.

I was in pain and the results of my surgery looked horrible,  I was black and blue with horrible swelling and stitches running every which way. Worse yet they were starting to itch.

Jerry had screened the mail from my mother.

He asked me if he could destroy a couple of the letters without my reading them.  He told me not to read them.

In one my mother told me that if I ever came home my father would kill me.

Between weed and pain killers Jerry and my friends kept me stoned.

Between the stent and everything else I developed a vaginal infection.

This meant another trip back to the clinic, this time at Stanford where they removed the catheter.

Dr Laub told me I had a yeast infection and it was the first time they had ever encountered that particular vaginal infection in a post-op transsexual.  He asked if I minded if he showed it to some of his interns as they were learning about transsexuals.

I translated some to be two or three and wasn’t ready for the twenty or so eager to see young doctors who crowded in to see my infected cunt.

I got better eventually.

I was expected to wear the stent full time for the first six months.

At first it was painful then annoying.

The surgery was ugly and primitive but was vastly improved when I got the follow up labioplasty a little over a year later.

I’ve learned to live with the fistula.

I answered all the questionnaires they gave me over the years.

I never sued and I ignored a whole lot of abuse that went along with being used as sort of an experimental subject.

Twelve years later on a follow up, after the movie Bladerunner, had come out I used the term “Replicants” to describe us and how they treated those of us who were among the first to get surgery done in the University hospitals.

This was after the Meyers/McHugh Report.  Judy Van Maasdam chided me for using a slur to describe myself.  I said, “Replicant is the term people use when they are being polite.  The bastards at Hopkins probably call us “Skin Jobs.””

The thing is very few of us complained.  Not because everything went perfectly.

Many of us tried to present a squeaky clean image not because the doctors required it but because we didn’t want to fuck things up for those who followed us.

I never sued, hell I probably signed away the rights to sue or even demand they cover the costs of correcting the fistula.

I laughed it off when they had all young doctors look at my twat.

I had friends in line behind me waiting to get their surgery and loyalty to them kept me from complaining.

Forty-five years later this is the stuff of my memoir.

Forty-five years later this was the price, those of us who got our surgery back then paid.

The doctors learned on our bodies and perfected the techniques they use today.

Am I envious of modern surgeries?

Honestly I am a little.

I wish I didn’t have the fistula and I wish I had a clit that looked like a clit.

But my cunt is my cunt, it is my body and the ball of tissue that lies hidden only to turn into a little knot when I get aroused, works the way it is supposed to, particularly with the Hitachi Magic Wand.

The only thing I wish I could convey to those who come along today and say that so few of the pioneers stuck around to give back to the community, is this, “We paid more than most of you will ever imagine.”

We put our bodies on the line with no guarantees and most of us did so with  grace and care because we didn’t want to fuck it up and have them stop doing SRS.

Everything was so experimental in those early years in American University Centers.

The photo below is as close as any one is going to see of a before picture of me.  It was taken about a month before I had SRS.  I’m wearing the purple skirt and one of my very special BFFs, Leslie is the tall blonde beside me.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Rosalie Sorrels (June 24, 1933 – June 11, 2017)

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I Was Recently Informed I’m Not a Transsexual

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2017/6/07/i-was-recently-informed-im-not-transsexual

When the Nazis Come Marching In

What a lot of folks on the Left don’t get is that the Second Amendment gives them the right to keep and bear arm precisely to prevent the take over of our nation by totalitarian forces be they Nazi or Communist.  The First Amendment guards the rights of all people to speak their minds.  It does not guarantee them any particular platform but prevents the denying of any platform to anyone no matter how hateful others might find their speech.

I am more afraid of those well meaning people who attack both the First and Second Amendments to our Constitution than I am of the Nazis.

From Slate:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/fear-of-the-first-amendment-in-time-of-violent-protests.html

I never feared the First Amendment until white supremacists came to my hometown

By Dahlia Lithwick
Jun 07, 2017

As a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, I have been forced of late to spend too much time thinking about Nazis. In mid-May, a handful of white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, xenophobes, and recreational racists—among them Richard Spencer—marched through one of our parks with flaming torches in support of a Robert E. Lee statue that has been slated to be sold by the City Council. The demonstration grabbed headlines worldwide, the statue’s removal has been placed on a six-month hold by a judge, and the Ku Klux Klan is now seeking permission to march here in July. A few weeks after the first march, a Facebook post from a local black farmer went viral due to its suggestion that the arrival of the white supremacists was more a culmination than an inciting incident, and that the fight over the Lee monument was empty symbolism that distracted from a meaningful discussion about the systemic racism that already exists here. The post included the claim that “it isn’t Richard Spencer calling the cops on me for farming while Black. It’s nervous White women in yoga pants with ‘I’m with Her’ and ‘Coexist’ stickers on their German SUVs.” White women in yoga pants were upset. Alt-right websites rejoiced.

My little city in central Virginia has become the stuff of reality TV. The local police, who didn’t see the Lee Park thing coming, are dialed up to 11. And with threats, incitement, and actual assaults perpetrated both by alt-right sympathizers and the protesters who oppose them, their job is no longer to stand back but to surge in almost as soon as the shouting begins. Now, when we come to meet in our town square, we are uncertain of whether we are suiting up for events that fete the Constitution or violent altercations for which we should park with an eye to high-speed retreats. Lee Park itself, where my babies learned to walk, has become ground zero for people expecting the worst.

This is how I felt as I headed to a local counter-protest the morning of May 31: afraid for the first time in my 16-year residence in a town I love. I was afraid that the cycle of arrests and assaults that have followed the Richard Spencer march would lead to more arrests and assaults, afraid about where we parked the car because white supremacists in this town have followed protesters home from rallies, afraid for the first time in the small town where my kids walk everywhere alone. For the first time in a lifetime of journalism, I was also afraid to wear my press credentials because today, in this town, they might invite punching.

Last week, I had come to a place where I was thinking—if not saying aloud—that maybe it was time for me and the First Amendment to see other people. It’s not me, to be sure, it’s the First Amendment—or at least what’s become of it. I am weary of hate speech, wary of threats, and tired of the choice between punching back and acquiescing. I am sick to death of Nazis. And yet they had arrived, basically on my doorstep.

Continue reading at:  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/06/fear-of-the-first-amendment-in-time-of-violent-protests.html

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In Defense of Cultural Appropriation

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html


June 14, 2017

LONDON — It is just as well that I’m a writer, not an editor. Were I editing a newspaper or magazine, I might soon be out of a job. For this is an essay in defense of cultural appropriation.

In Canada last month, three editors lost their jobs after making such a defense.

The controversy began when Hal Niedzviecki, editor of Write, the magazine of the Canadian Writers’ Union, penned an editorial defending the right of white authors to create characters from minority or indigenous backgrounds. Within days, a social media backlash forced him to resign. The Writers’ Union issued an apology for an article that its Equity Task Force claimed “re-entrenches the deeply racist assumptions” held about art.

Another editor, Jonathan Kay, of The Walrus magazine, was also compelled to step down after tweeting his support for Mr. Niedzviecki. Meanwhile, the broadcaster CBC moved Steve Ladurantaye, managing editor of its flagship news program The National, to a different post, similarly for an “unacceptable tweet” about the controversy.

It’s not just editors who have to tread carefully. Last year, the novelist Lionel Shriver generated a worldwide storm after defending cultural appropriation in an address to the Brisbane Writers Festival. Earlier this year, controversy erupted when New York’s Whitney Museum picked for its Biennial Exhibition Dana Schutz’s painting of the mutilated corpse of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955. Many objected to a white painter like Ms. Schutz depicting such a traumatic moment in black history. The British artist Hannah Black organized a petition to have the work destroyed.

Other works of art have been destroyed. The sculptor Sam Durant’s piece “Scaffold,” honoring 38 Native Americans executed in 1862 in Minneapolis, was recently being assembled in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. But after protests from indigenous activists that Mr. Durant was appropriating their history, the artist dismantled his own work, and made its wood available to be burned in a Dakota Sioux ceremony.

What is cultural appropriation, and why is it so controversial? Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University, defines it as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.” This can include the “unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

Appropriation suggests theft, and a process analogous to the seizure of land or artifacts. In the case of culture, however, what is called appropriation is not theft but messy interaction. Writers and artists necessarily engage with the experiences of others. Nobody owns a culture, but everyone inhabits one, and in inhabiting a culture, one finds the tools for reaching out to other cultures.

Critics of cultural appropriation insist that they are opposed not to cultural engagement, but to racism. They want to protect marginalized cultures and ensure that such cultures speak for themselves, not simply be seen through the eyes of more privileged groups.

Certainly, cultural engagement does not take place on a level playing field. Racism and inequality shape the ways in which people imagine others. Yet it is difficult to see how creating gated cultures helps promote social justice.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html

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Naomi Klein: How to Resist Trump’s Shock Doctrine

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: The Waitresses

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7th Circuit affirms bathroom access for trans student

From Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/05/30/7th-circuit-affirms-bathroom-access-for-trans-student/

by Chris Johnson
May 30, 2017

In another legal decision affirming federal law ensures bathroom access for transgender students, a federal appeals court has determined a transgender student in Wisconsin must be allowed access to restrooms at his high school consistent with his gender identity.

In a 35-page decision, a three-judge panel the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of Ashton Whitaker, a 17-year-old who sued Kenosha Unified School District for requiring him to use a restroom separate from one used by all other students.

Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit Judge Ann Claire Williams, an Obama appointee, determined Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which bars discrimination in schools on the basis of sex, applies to Ash’s situation.

“A policy that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non‐conformance, which in turn violates Title IX,” Williams writes.

Joining Williams in the decision was U.S. Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner, an appointee of George W. Bush, and U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood, a Clinton appointee.

The decision upholds a preliminary injunction U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper, an Obama appointee, issued in September requiring Kenosha Unified School District to change its policy.

Ash said in a statement he’s “thrilled” the Seventh Circuit determined that Pepper’s decision should stand as the litigation and his studies continue.

“After facing daily humiliation at school last year from being threatened with discipline and being constantly monitored by school staff just to use the bathroom, the district court’s injunction in September allowed me to be a typical senior in high school and to focus on my classes, after-school activities, applying to college, and building lasting friendships,” Ash said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/05/30/7th-circuit-affirms-bathroom-access-for-trans-student/

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Why Wonder Woman is a masterpiece of subversive feminism

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/05/why-wonder-woman-is-a-masterpiece-of-subversive-feminism

Yes, the new movie sees its titular heroine sort of naked a lot of the time. But the film-makers have still worked to turn sexist Hollywood conventions on their head


Monday 5 June 2017

The chances are you will read a feminist takedown of Wonder Woman before you see the film. And you’ll probably agree with it. Wonder Woman is a half-god, half-mortal super-creature; she is without peer even in superhero leagues. And yet, when she arrives in London to put a stop to the war to end all wars, she instinctively obeys a handsome meathead who has no skills apart from moderate decisiveness and pretty eyes. This is a patriarchal figment. Then, naturally, you begin to wonder why does she have to fight in knickers that look like a fancy letterbox made of leather? Does her appearance and its effect on the men around her really have to play such a big part in all her fight scenes? Even my son lodged a feminist critique: if she were half god, he said, she would have recognised the god Ares immediately – unless he were a better god than her (being a male god).

I agree with all of that, but I still loved it. I didn’t love it as a guilty pleasure. I loved it with my whole heart. Wonder Woman, or Diana Prince, as her civilian associates would know her, first appeared as a character in DC Comics in 1941, her creator supposedly inspired by the feminism of the time, and specifically the contraception pioneer Margaret Sanger. Being able to stop people getting pregnant would be a cool superpower, but, in fact, her skills were: bullet-pinging with bracelets; lassoing; basic psychology; great strength and athleticism; and being half-god (the result of unholy congress between Zeus and Hyppolyta). The 1970s TV version lost a lot of the poetry of that, and was just all-American cheesecake. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman made her cinematic debut last year in Batman v Superman, and this first live-action incarnation makes good on the character’s original premise, the classical-warrior element amped up and textured. Her might makes sense.

Yes, she is sort of naked a lot of the time, but this isn’t objectification so much as a cultural reset: having thighs, actual thighs you can kick things with, not thighs that look like arms, is a feminist act. The whole Diana myth, women safeguarding the world from male violence not with nurture but with better violence, is a feminist act. Casting Robin Wright as Wonder Woman’s aunt, re-imagining the battle-axe as a battler, with an axe, is a feminist act. A female German chemist trying to destroy humans (in the shape of Dr Poison, a proto-Mengele before Nazism existed) might be the most feminist act of all.

Women are repeatedly erased from the history of classical music, art and medicine. It takes a radical mind to pick up that being erased from the history of evil is not great either. Wonder Woman’s casual rebuttal of a sexual advance, her dress-up montage (“it’s itchy”, “I can’t fight in this”, “it’s choking me”) are also feminist acts. Wonder Woman is a bit like a BuzzFeed list: 23 Stupid Sexist Tropes in Cinema and How to Rectify Them. I mean that as a compliment.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jun/05/why-wonder-woman-is-a-masterpiece-of-subversive-feminism

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Why the Middle East’s Christians Are Under Attack

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/opinion/why-the-middle-easts-christians-are-under-attack.html

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Rev. Troy Perry on pain and joy of resistance and Pride

From The Los Angeles Blade:  http://www.losangelesblade.com/2017/06/03/rev-troy-perry-pain-joy-resistance-pride/


June 3, 2017

Rev. Troy Perry was anxious. What if LAPD Police Chief Ed Davis was right and a mob of hardhats was waiting to descend on parade-goers just as they turned the corner from McCadden Place onto Hollywood Boulevard? Experience told him police would not protect the gays and may even arrest them for malicious interference with the downward-progress of a hardhat’s valuable baseball bat.

That’s just the way it was in Los Angeles on June 28, 1970. But unlike New York, which was commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the new movement for gay liberation with a protest march, Perry and his Christopher Street West co-founders Morris Kight and Rev. Bob Humphries, decided to throw a celebratory parade. There should be joy in liberation, relief from the constant fuel of rage.

But it hadn’t been easy. Perry had appeared before the Los Angeles Police Commission to secure a parade permit and Davis, who publically called gays “faeries,” told him: “As far as I’m concerned, granting a permit to a group of homosexuals to parade down Hollywood Boulevard would be the same as giving a permit to a group of thieves and robbers.”

The Police Commission granted the permit—if CSW paid a $1.5 million bond. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Herbert E. Selwyn stepped up, forcing the commission to drop the excessive fee. Selwyn also won a court order to have the $1,500 police protection fee dropped, with the California Superior Court judge declaring that homosexuals were citizens, too.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1970, an estimated 1,165 people showed up on McCadden Place, ready to come out and party down Hollywood Boulevard. One Gay Liberation Front float featured a gay man “nailed” to a black and white cross with a sign reading: “In Memory of Those Killed by the Pigs.” Street performers dressed as fairies with wings pretended they were being chased by police brandishing nightsticks.

The political theater masked the deep anxiety and courage it took to participate in the parade; for some, it was also brave just to stand on the curb and applaud. No one knew if violence would erupt—whether from hardhats or the police or an ordinary citizen outraged at homosexuals proudly on parade.

Anti-gay violence had already seared Troy Perry’s soul. On Oct. 28, 1968, the Tallahassee, Fla., native started his own church with 12 gay worshippers in his Huntington Park living room. It was an act of spiritual resistance against the Pentecostal church that defrocked him because of his homosexuality, a pain deepened by the end of a romance. Then, an epiphany: Rev. Troy Perry attempted suicide but was shaken out of his dark stupor by an unidentified black woman who stood in his hospital room and said, “Some of us care about you.” She threw the switch that reconnected him to God. He came to realize that a ministry awaited him.

In 1969, with signs declaring “we’re not afraid anymore,” Perry led a nighttime march down Hollywood Boulevard calling for the end to sodomy laws and a small picket protesting anti-gay job discrimination, where he met Mattachine Society founder Harry Hay and his lover John Burnside and had no idea who they were. In January 1970, he sat in at the counter of Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, demanding that the owner take down his “Fagots Stay Out” sign above the bar. He also led hundreds of marchers demanding police reform.

On March 9, 1970, Perry led 120 marchers to rally behind the pre-bathhouse Dover Hotel in downtown LA to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Howard Efland, who had been beaten to death by two LAPD officers. He attended the inquest and heard the police explain that one of the officers had “fallen” on Efland, rupturing his spleen and that the broken bones and cuts were a result of him having fallen out of the police car, not being dragged feet first down three flights of stairs after having been beaten up and then kicked. “There were two eyewitnesses,” Perry says. “The City Attorney asked the first one, a drag queen wearing female clothes, ‘are you a homosexual?’ She answered, ‘Yes,” and the eyes of the jurors closed. They didn’t want to hear any more.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.losangelesblade.com/2017/06/03/rev-troy-perry-pain-joy-resistance-pride/

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Rhiannon Giddens

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16 years ago today, a Hamas suicide bomber exploded outside the Dolphinarium night club in Tel Aviv. 21 innocent lives were lost – many young teenage girls.

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